Review Sheet -- Test 2 (Week 10) Biology 1224 -- Entomology; James Adams
Infraclass Neoptera; Division Endopterygota; Superorder Mecopteroidea
Order Lepidoptera ("scaly winged') -- The Butterflies and Moths (Chapter 45)
Minute to very large insects, typified by having the wings (and body) partly to completely
covered by colored scales and in almost all cases mouthparts are modified as a long coiled
proboscis. Head hypognathous (the proboscis), with a few species that have the proboscis much
reduced (and do not feed as adults); with well developed antennae and compound eyes.
Prothorax typically small, mesothorax much larger, usually with large wings, and with extensions
(tegulae) projecting backwards over wing bases; metathorax smaller, but also with large wings;
wings typically with large discal cell, and coupled by a frenulum (most) or jugum; legs are
walking legs, and the forelegs may be very reduced in some families. Long, cylindrical abdomen.
Larvae frequently caterpillar-like, with strongly sclerotized head and mandibulate mouthparts
and labial spinnerets for spinning silk; no compound eyes or ocelli -- simple stemmata instead.
Thorax with short legs; abdomen typically with several pairs of prolegs with crochets (hooks),
usually on segments 3-6 and 10 (but variable); the crochets allow the larvae to cling tightly to the
substrate. Thorax and abdomen almost always have primary (sensory) setae, and may add
numerous secondary (sensory and protective) setae in successive instars. Larval form highly
modified in stem/leaf-mining types.
Pupae are typically adectitious and obtect; pupation may occur in a cell in the soil or
decaying wood (no cocoon); or in the leaf litter or hanging from plant material (chrysalis), with
or without a cocoon, depending on the species. The cocoon may incorporate plant material or
last instar larval hairs for protection and/or camouflage.
From a biological perspective, this very large order of insects is perhaps the most uniform
of the large, holometabolous insects. The larvae almost exclusively feed on vegetation, and the
vast majority on leaf material, and are certainly the most important of crop pests because of this;
several species are also important algal, lichen, fungi, and detritus feeders. The adults also are
reasonably uniform in their food choices, with the vast majority feeding on nectar from flowers,
though several will feed on decaying fruit, sap, and even urine, dung, carrion, or even blood.
The colorful wings of some of the large species has made this group incredibly popular
with collectors. The colors (in the scales) can be used for several different functions: camouflage,
aposematism (warning coloration), mimicry, mate attraction, etc. Besides the color, however,
the scales are typically somewhat easily detached and allow captured individuals to slip free from
predators' grasps. The scales on the body may additionally help individuals to maintain body
temperatures above environmental temperatures, particularly important for the night-flying moths.
Mate attraction in butterflies may be visual, but in many species involves pheromone
release by one or both sexes; mating involves transferring a spermatophore (capsule containing
sperm) to the female. Egg-laying typically involves gluing eggs to the appropriate larval
foodplant; a few species broadcast eggs; egg number varies from dozens to thousands.
The genetics of sex are different in this order than other orders of insects and most
vertebrates (except birds) in that lepidopteran males are XX and females are XY.
Four Monotrysian (single mating/egg-laying opening) suborders; small species in relatively
infrequently encountered families.
The vast majority of Lepidoptera, with separate mating and egg-laying (and
digestive system) openings.
Likely encountered families in the Ditrysia include:
*Papilionidae: Swallowtails; large butterflies; larvae with osmeteria.
*Pieridae: Sulphur and White Butterflies
*Nymphalidae: Brush-Footed Butterflies; forelegs reduced; some other families
(Satyridae, Danaidae [including the Monarch]) now included here.
*Lycaenidae: Blues/Hairstreaks; small butterflies, typically blue/gray with lines/spots
*Hesperiidae: Skippers; antennae with knob and hook on end
*Saturniidae: Giant Silk Moths; non-feeding adults
*Sphingidae: Sphinx or Hummingbird Moths; larvae "sphinx-like", adults flap wings
rapidly and hover in front of flowers to feed
Lasiocampidae: Tent caterpillars and Lappet Moths; "furry" moths, rounded wings
Erebidae: Includes former *Arctiidae (Tiger, Lichen and Wasp moths, which are often
colorful and possess tymbal organs) and Lymantriidae (Tussock Moths, which includes
Gypsy Moth) and parts of "old" Noctuidae
*Noctuidae: Owlet Moths; Most diverse family
Notodontidae: Similar to noctuids as adults, but often a bit more robust.
*Geometridae: Inchworm (Geometer) moths; thin bodied, broad-winged; third most
Drepanidae: Hooktip Moths; one species (Oreta rosea) common in GA
*Pterophoridae: Plume Moths; thin wings ("airplane-like" in shape).
Pyralidae: Pyralid Moths; second most diverse family; long legs, palps and antennae;
typically small to medium sized.
Limacodidae: Slug Caterpillar Moths; small, rounded-winged moths, with remarkably
colored and shaped caterpillars.
Tortricidae: Tortricid moths; small to medium sized, often greyish, yellowish or
brownish; outline at rest often "bell-shaped"; very diverse pests on trees
Cossidae: Carpenterworm Moths; dull but large moths; larvae bore in wood
Sesiidae: Clearwing (or Wasp) Moths; larvae economically important borers
Attevidae: Includes Ailanthus Webworm Moth, Atteva aurea
Gelechiidae, Oecophoridae, Gracillariidae: Very small but quite abundant moths.
Psychidae: Bagworm Moths
Tineidae: Clothes Moths
Acrolophidae: formerly in the Tineidae; approximately inch-long, thin brown moths (at rest),
common in fall in GA.
Check out the Georgia Lepidoptera Website at:
(Such shameless self promotion!)